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Indians 2-0 in AL; Cubs, Dodgers take NL opener

Cleveland Indians’ Yan Gomes pumps his fist after hitting a game-winning RBI-single off New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances in the 13th inning of Game 2 of baseball’s American League Division Series, in Cleveland. (right) Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros reacts after hitting a tworun RBI double in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox during game two of the AL Division Series at Minute Maid Par in Houston, Texas.AP, AFP

LOS ANGELES – The Cleveland Indians overcame a five-run deficit to edge the New York Yankees 9-8 in a 13-inning marathon to seize a 2-0 lead in their Major League Baseball playoff series.

Yan Gomes applied the dramatic final touches with a run-batted-in single in the bottom of the 13th on Friday, giving the Indians their biggest playoff comeback in history and moving them to one win away from advancing to the American League Championship series.

“I am speechless. That was victory right there,” a shivering Gomes said after being doused with a bucket of ice-cold sports drink. “I will take it every day.”

Game three of the best-of-five series is Sunday in New York, giving the players just one day to recover after Friday’s extended showdown in Cleveland that lasted more than five hours.

In other American League action, Carlos Correa smashed a homer and drove in four runs to power Houston over Boston 8-2, pushing the Astros to the brink of advancing to the next round.

Houston seized a 2-0 lead with game three set for Sunday in Boston.

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In Cleveland, the Indians’ Austin Jackson led off the bottom of the 13th by drawing a walk from Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances, and then stealing second base.

Gomes then worked the count to 3-2, and hit a hard chopper down the third base line past infielder Ronald Torreyes for the winning run.            

“The understatement of the year would be to say there was a lot going on in that game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “There was so many things that happened that if we don’t do one of them, we probably lose.”               

Josh Tomlin, the last of eight Cleveland pitchers, pitched two scoreless innings to get the win.      

Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks and Greg Bird homered for the Yankees, who squandered an 8-3 lead.

Behind by five runs, the Indians got a grand slam from Francisco Lindor off Chad Green in the sixth inning to cut it to 8-7, and Jay Bruce’s solo home run lead off the eighth and tied it at 8-8.     

 Cleveland starter Corey Kluber had his worst outing of the year, giving up six runs in 2 2/3 innings.           

Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion had to leave the game in the first inning with a right ankle sprain.

 In Houston, the Astros jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning when Jose Altuve smacked a two-out single to left field and Correa homered to left field.

The Red Sox responded in the second inning when Chris Young doubled, stole third base and scored on Jackie Bradley’s single up the middle, slicing the Astros’ lead in half.

Houston stretched the edge to 4-1 in the third when George Springer led off with a solo homer, Alex Bregman followed with a double and scored on an Altuve single to left field, prompting Boston to replace starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz.

Elsewhere, Anthony Rizzo had a pair of two-out RBI hits and Kyle Hendricks pitched seven scoreless innings as the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 in game one of the National League division series.        

Hendricks allowed two hits, struck out six while throwing 106 pitches. 

Washington’s Stephen Strasburg held the Cubs hitless for 5 2/3 innings before allowing a pair of unearned runs in the sixth. Strasburg allowed three hits and struck out 10 in seven innings.

In the late game, Clayton Kershaw recorded the first postseason home win of his career as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5 in the opening game of their best-of-five NL series. (AFP)

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